For most of us, Raiding is the pinnacle of our experience in any MMO. For those that havent raided before they are lured by the loot rewards that they offer and the challenge that raids present to us as players. While many players come from other MMOs or games where group interaction is expected and required, many more dont.
With World of Warcraft being such a solo friendly MMO and WoW attracting so many first time MMO players, many players get to the level cap without having really grouped that much. They then find out that all the best gear is only available through these large group instances called Raids and want to be involved.
With so many players interested in raiding in Cataclysm now, but not really sure on what is expected, its time they learn. Raids always need new players, so no matter how inexperienced you are there will still be room for you someplace. All you really need is some knowledge, some patience, some skill, a willingness to learn, and some serious time to invest in both raiding and character development.
This guide walks you through the most important things that you need to know before stepping into a Raid. That way you have a lot of the up front knowledge you need to be able to deal with the raiding environment. Surprisingly most of the items dont even deal directly with the raid that you are involved with, but the overall elements of the game that will help you deal with any raid.
Top 10 things you should know before Raiding
While there are many different communications packages out there, Ventrilo is the long standing base line. You should have it installed and know how to use it at all times. If you havent used it before, get it setup, and learn if before raid night. Know how to add different connections in it, know how to get to links through it, set a push to talk button, adjust player volumes and how to ensure your voice is clear. This of course also means making sure you have mic and speakers, preferably in the form of a good quality headset. While a normal mic and speakers work, any time there is background noise on your end it could get sent through if you are talking. Trust me, your wife will NOT be happy for the raid to hear her yelling at the kids that its bedtime.
You can find Ventrilo here: www.ventrilo.com.
Understand UI MODS
For raiding more than for any other time you are playing WoW, you really need UI mods. Therefore before you start raiding you really need to know how to install and use them. You should have the absolute basics for your class and raiding installed at all times, and be ready to install anything else you need at any give time. While the class mods obviously vary from class to class, for raiding your minimum installed list of mods should include: Deadly Boss Mods (DBM), Omen, Recount, Decursive, and of course PlayerScore.
For you Paladins out there here is a list of some of the Best Paladin UI Mods.
Know your limits
By this I mean, know what you are capable of and what your character is capable of. Character wise, if you are only geared and ready for the first tier of bosses in a raid, dont sign up to go for all of the bosses. If a potential group needs a healer and you can heal, but its your offspec and youre not great at it, let them know.
Warning the raid leader in advance about things like your gear level, skill level, or time limits are both honest and appreciated. Even if you cannot manage something this time and get replaced, they will appreciate the honesty and know that they can trust you and that you are a responsible respectful player and more than likely invite you back later. After all, raiding relies on at least 9 other players, would you rather an idiot that does high numbers, or a decent player that listens, learns and is honest. I know which one I would take.
Know where to go for information
Hint, hint, here of course: www.tentonhammer.com/wow!
Seriously though you need to have multiple sources of information so that once you learn where you are going to raid that week you can research it (ahead of time!), watch videos, set expectations and more. There is never any excuse to walk into a raid and not know the mechanics of a boss. Make a list of useful sites that have information for raids, characters, and have them ready to use at any time. While learning early is important, it is also critical when a fight is not going well and you are on a 5th attempt to be able to jump back to a site and refresh your memory. You now may understand more about the fights or mechanics since you have now seen them.
Your best consumables, buffs, items
In essence be prepared for the raid. This ties in with the above information point, in that you should learn which fights cause what kinds of damage so you can potentially stack resistances, get haste potions, stack movement buffs, or any number of other beneficial bonuses.
In addition you should have all the basics with you that are best for your class and role. This will include all the basics such as food, water, bandages, pots, elixirs, and anything else that is useful for you. Also, make sure you bring your secondary specs gear. If you are DPS and can heal, even if you dont expect to, bring the gear. It saves a trip to town and time later.
Know Every Class
While you do not need to know every single class in minute detail, you should know at least the basics of what every class does so that you can best interact with the other classes. You need to know what they can do and how they work so you can maximize their benefit to you, and vise versa. This also helps so that when things go wrong, you can help the raid by seeing and suggesting alternative strategies, or the use of abilities that may have been missed.
Know Your Character
Know each and every ability that you have and when it is best to use it. This applies to your main and secondary spec equally. The difference between a player, a good player, and a great player is their use of abilities. For example, sure as a Retribution Paladin your primary job may not be to cleanse debuffs off of players, however that is no excuse to not have cleanse and hand of freedom up on your bar and ready to use in an emergency. If the healer is low on mana or time, or if you can save yourself or another player that is about to die, you should.
As the Rock famously said Know your Role, and shut your mouth, no greater wisdom has ever come from a wrestler that can be related to raiding. The knowing your role is critical! And, while the shut your mouth is a bit of a stretch as you should speak occasionally, it is good to keep in mind as well. Dont keep it shut forever, but do please think before speaking in a raid, because if everyone spoke all the time, nothing would ever get heard.
Know the Bosses Abilities
You need to at least know the basic abilities of each boss you are going to fight. Find out what they can do, roughly when they do it, what you can do to avoid some of them, what is interruptible, buffs, debuffs, and anything else that could be important such as adds or movement.
Be aware that you dont always need to know the exact details for each ability. For example you dont need to know that standing in the fire does 15,000 or 30,000 damage per tick, you just need to know that you have to get the hell out of the fire. Some things are critical though, such as cast times on interruptible spells, or cast times on spells that have LoS (Line of Sight) that you need to avoid. Learning which details are important and which are of less important takes time but is an important skill.
Knowing the rough details of all the abilities is important even if some do not affect you. A prime example would be knowing about a damage reflection shield on a boss as a healer. Sure you are not going to be suffering damage from it, but you will know that when someone starts taking big damage for no real reason that you can see,
Know the Boss Strategy Basics
Once you know the boss abilities it is even more important to know the boss strategies. You need to walk into a raid night with the basic understanding of the fights you are going to attempt. The boss abilities above are a big part of that, but also rough positioning, timing, movement, and more. You need to be aware of all this before so that attempts are smooth and clean from the start.
No one in a raid wants to wait and listen as a leader has to talk for 20 minutes to explain the abilities and strategy in detail for each fight. They should be able to run through the basics before the fight as a reminder for everyone in about 2-5 minutes, then answer questions, then move on to the fight itself. Once you have seen a fight, make sure you go back and review it afterwards as well. Look at what went well, what went poorly, what you did and did not understand. Take all this in and learn to make it better for the next time.
Raiding is not always easy, nor should it be. If raiding was simple then it would not be nearly as much fun as it is. This means you should learn to accept that there will be wipes while learning fights, especially on heroic mode. You should learn that many times it will be one player that wipes the raid, sometimes it will probably even be you, accept that and move on. Learn from each mistake, but dont get upset.
With perseverance, knowledge, patience, and skill every fight can be beaten. If you get upset, yell, and quit, you will never ever win the fight.
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